The time has come for Congress to strongly regulate products entering our shores from foreign countries like China that do not respect safety regulations and do not adhere to strict quality control standards. The latest assault on the American Consumer from China comes in the form of defective and toxic dry wall that damage houses and may damage health as well. A bill sponsored by Senator Bill Nelson and Representative Robert Wexler requests strong regulation as well as a recall and ban on this product until the problem is corrected. This bill is good for the American consumer and should become the law of the land in our Country. We need to protect the Public from dangerous and damaging products.
This problem attacks the American consumer at the very worst time, given our current National financial crisis, the high unemployment rate and the difficulty that people are encountering in making ends meet. The cost involved in moving out of a house, rebuilding the interior of the home to replace the defective dry wall, damaged wiring, plumbing, air-conditioning and other personal property, will cost the American consumer over one third the value of their home. This is economically and emotionally devastating to most affected homeowners as well as the homebuilders and businesses that relied on the safety and compliance of the imported product. The situation has been correctly described by homeowners as a night mare.
This problem may very well be the largest construction defect case in our Country’s history. Chinese dry wall has caused billions of dollars of damage to Homes in the United States of America. It is estimated that sixty thousand homes may be affected with the release of high levels of sulfur that this defective Chinese dry wall is emitting. Florida alone may have about thirty thousand homes impacted by this problem. The only known way to adequately fix the problem is costly, time consuming and disruptive. The solution requires gutting the interior of the homes down to the studs and rebuilding while replacing all damaged wires, plumbing, metal, electronic equipment, furniture and the like. Builders who must warrant the homes that they sold may find themselves in bankruptcy as a result, leaving behind two victims – the homeowner and the builder.
In addition, the removal of the toxic drywall poses a serious environmental concern when disposing of it. Where will this drywall be dumped? Will its contaminants seep into our water? Will it contaminate the surrounding land, air in the areas where it is discarded? How do we deal with this toxic problem in a way that will not impact our environment in a dangerous way? Perhaps we should send the material back where it came from once the product is recalled. After all, the product was imported from China and it should rightfully be returned to China.
The problem with the Chinese dry wall may be related to the mixing of ingredients in the dry wall. Chinese dry wall is not pure gypsum. Instead it is mixed with organic materials that create a sulfur gas to be released when mixed with the inorganic gypsum and water, often in the form of humidity. This results in the sulfur related damage being experienced by homeowners throughout the Nation.
Many home owners are complaining about allergy like symptoms as a result of living in homes with defective dry wall. We do not know what the long term effects of exposure to the sulfur will mean to the homeowners. The long term health effects of the dry wall are still unknown. Thousands of individuals exposed to the Defective dry wall are reporting asthma, respiratory problems, burning or itchy eyes, sore throats, headaches and other related problems. David Krause from the Florida Department of Health recently reported that the most recent laboratory tests commissioned by the State of Florida found that Chinese drywall material, when exposed to moisture, produces hydrogen sulfide gas, a chemical known to cause neurological and respiratory damage in humans. The study was conducted for the Florida Department of Health by an Illinois-based company named Unified Engineering Inc. This was the first step taken by the State of Florida to determine whether the drywall is hazardous to people. The testing detected hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide and carbon disulfide at levels between 100 parts per billion and 1,000 parts per billion. That level far exceeds what is considered safe, but because the test was done in a laboratory, the findings are limited and do not necessarily translate to what the readings may be in a house with the defective dry wall.
While the long term health effects of the defective dry wall are not yet known, we do know that the affected homeowner needs help now. That is why a quick response is needed from our Federal Government that tackles this problem while protecting the public. Consumers need protection from dangerous foreign products to eliminate the environmental, economic and health hazards that this toxic wall board represents. I ask for quick, decisive action to protect our homeowners. The dry wall should be recalled, strong regulations are needed and a ban on potentially dangerous products from China should be instituted in order to protect the American public.